Friday, April 29, 2011

Gotta get away????

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.(Matthew 11:28-30)

Tired???? Weary???? Just a bit too much day-to-day pressures???? Jesus knew our pain and felt the burdens of family issues, relationships, and prejudices. He was rejected often amd mistaken many times. His own family and closest friends often doubted Him. He faced a future of brutal torment and an ultimate inhumane death. But He persevered . . .

Jesus bore our burdens while here in the flesh.(1 Peter 2:24) By His stripes, His suffering, we are healed from sin but also from bearing the shame of those sins. (Isaiah 53:4-5)While we will suffer (1 Peter 4:12-19), we can find peace to endure knowing it is because of our faith, not our sin. Of course, if we choose to sin, we will also choose to suffer the consequences that go along with them!

Thank God for grace and the blood which forgives us!

Know that Jesus cares for each and every one of His children with an everlasting love. (1 John 4:19)He wants to yoke up with us and carry our burdens in life. He desires to walk beside us and carry us when we are too weak to take another step. When the burdens of life weigh us down, Jesus says "come to me!"

Where do you find rest this day? I only know ONE who really gives peace and rest! Do you know Him?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

THE Rock

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.”(Psalm 91:1-2)

I have never heard of so many natural disasters as we have seen and witnessed worldwide in the past few years. We know these are just the beginning of worse things to come as the Lord is soon to return.(Matthew 24)

Just last evening, (April 27, 2011)my neighborhood of Bowie, MD had a sighted tornado. It is the seconnd time in my life I have witnessed this. But more serriously, way to many have been killed and displaced die to tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes and more in the recent past.

So what are we to do? How are we to witness to a weary world? We trust!We keep close to our Savior and rest in His arms. He alone can provide protection from the mental and physical storms of life. When all hell breaks loose, there is peace in knowing the Lord.

More than ever, peoeple need to really KNOW the Lord! No Jesus, no peace . . . Know Jesus, know Peace! He is my rock and my shelter!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Song for You

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.(Zephaniah 3:17)

Most believers know and understand that God is here for us and desiring to bless us. In fact, it is not His will that anyone be lost to sin.(2 Peter 3:9)

So naturally (God's nature)He is mighty to save those who call upon His name.(Romans 10:13)

God enjoys the believer who lives for Him and does His will. We bring Him pleasure. He calms us with His unfailing love when things seem uneasy and challenging.

So here are a few questions: have you ever sung your child to sleep . . . Ever quetly whispered a song to calm their fears . . . ever sang as a choir in the car?

Peaceful . . . calming . . . exciting . . . encouraging . . . loving.

But here is the awesome thing: Zephaniah tells us that God is so excited over His children that He actually sings about us and for us! Oh, I want that! I want to hear the voice of God harmonizing just for me . . . how wild is that! I cannot even imagine that calming, quieting, and encouraging voice.

Be still for a few minutes and listen for the voice of God . . . He just may be singng your tune!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Like My Daddy?

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.(John 17:15-17)

What a beautiful prayer: from a Father to a son; from a grandparent for his young grandchildren; even from a teacher toward his or her most challenged students!

Imagine Christ speaking intimately with the Father concerning the ones He will be leaving behind, even sending out. He was asking for strength, protection and confidence for these struggling believers. He had given them all He could and was about to leave them to go home. It was the WORD of God . . . His TRUTH that would secure them.

We cannot ask that our children be isolated from the world. We want them to impact the world for Christ! We want them to go through Samaria, not around it! As frightening as that may be, it is the TRUTH and His WORD that will ultimately get them by . . . along with the visual and verbal examples we leave them.

Yes our words impact the children we have around us. More importantly, it is our example! What do we do when pushed to the edge? How do we react to challenges? To Whom do we turn? Where do we run? What do we say? Do our actions back up our words?

Jesus prayed for you and me and then acted on God's will in His power. What do our children see and hear in us?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Part of the Crowd?

“See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
(Colossians 2:8 NIV)

Paul addressed the Colossians on the person and saving work of Jesus Christ in Chapter one. As he moves forward, he begins to move from doctrine to practical issues; namely the false teaching being spread among the believers there.

His exhorting however is still based upon the basic teachings of the Gospel: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

His question to the Colossians was this: Why should anyone even want to listen to the false arguments of these heretical teachers and their claims of special knowledge and insight when they have the One in whom are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?

Why would one settle for a fake when they have the genuine article?

Paul encourages the believers to hold fast to the things he taught them, which he learned from Christ Himself (Galatians 1:9-12).

Just as we have received Christ through the revelation of the Gospel through the Holy Spirit, we must hold fast to the basic doctrines we know to be true. The same truths Paul taught from the mouth of Christ are the same truths we who know the Savior were taught.

Just as Paul would encourage believers to grow in faith and to be firmly rooted in basic doctrine (Colossians 2:7) we today need to stay focused on basic truths and beware of the deceptive teachings of human tradition and principles of this world!

Our children do not noticed the traditional ways things have been done! Surely we all can witness the fact that principles once held as fundamental and even sacred are now so easily discarded for more practical ways and practices.

Tolerance, political correctness, individual rights, and freedom of expression are all different ways to express one thing in today’s society: the world is being taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy! We must not be found A PART OF THE CROWD!!!

We must be committed to the Gospel and be watchful to never fall back on our former ways or allow our children to think anything but the TRUTH is true!

The things we used to trust in; the people we put our hope in are now gone and our trust is in God alone! (Galatians 4:8-9)

In these last days, we have to be on the lookout for the enemy at every turn. We are called as a body to be a holy people (1 Peter 2:9).

We must be unique in our stand for Christ amidst every challenge we face. We must challenge our children to be out-standing!

Jesus was never just A PART OF THE CROWD and He calls us to stand out for Him today and every day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Another" Holy Week in ONE Life

No Pain, No Gain

“‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.’ Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.
He said to Peter, ‘So, couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed,
‘My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it,
your will must be done.’ ”
(Matthew 26:38-42 NET)

Recalling the movie, The Passion (Mel Gibson) and how Jesus was in agony in the garden prior to His arrest, I reflect upon the image of Satan right there, still plotting to thwart God’s plan to redeem man’s soul . . .my soul . . . your soul!

He tried to convince Jesus that we were not worth His efforts and that no one man could possibly save all of man. Oh but my Jesus, He slammed His foot upon the serpent, bringing to mind the verse in Genesis 3:15 (NIV):

“…he will crush your head…”

Satan was about to receive a crushing blow; the victory over death through the shed blood of Christ upon the cross. The emotional pain leading up to the cross must have wracked Jesus'soul, yet in no way would it compare to the physical pain leading up to and including the crucifixion. It was all for you and for me.

Thank you Jesus!

There is a familiar saying in the gym: “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”. Without the pain of the cross there is no gain of salvation. There had to be the pain to atone for the sin. There had to bloodshed!

“Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood,
and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
(Hebrews 9:22 NET)

His PAIN (beatings, scourging, spitting, curses, and the crucifixion) was our GAIN. His sacrifice was our freedom. We owe everything we are to Christ. No one could ever do what He did.

All of our work is simple rubbish before a holy God. How deep and wide is the love of God for us for Him to allow Jesus to doo all he did!

He did it for Peter, who promised to follow Jesus through anything, yet denied Him three times in one night.

He did it for the Jewish people and all who cried out “crucify Him!”

He did it for the thief hanging next to Him on the cross.

He did it for me. He did it for you! Why does He love us so?

Jesus cried out while on the cross,

“‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is,
‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
(Matthew 27:46 NET)

Then He sighed,

"‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
(John 19:30 NKJV)

The work of Christ was complete. He had received all the sin of every person to live upon this earth. He felt the painful separation from His Father. The Old Testament sacrificial laws were now obsolete. His obedience to God the Father’s will was complete and perfect.

The sacrifice had been made. The temple curtain was torn in two making the way clear to the Father. No more atonement was needed. No more rituals. The way of redemption had been paved!

One person: Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, out of love for man and obedience to the Father, took on flesh and became sin for us. No greater love would ever be established than for Jesus Christ to lay down His life for each of us.

Never doubt His love! At the foot of the cross, as we look up and gaze upon our Savior, His outstretched arms show the width and depth of His love.

I wonder what our pain . . . our sacrifice . . . our commitment . . .our obedience can lead to?

One life . . . our life . . .lived within another Holy Week?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Well Done????

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38:39)

Anyone who thinks becoming a Christian is like winning the prize behind door number three is well . . . mistaken! Christianity is not a game show. It is not about all the toys God can bless me with or all the best things in life. It is about coming in line with God's will for one's life and living it out for the good of the Kingdom!

Perhaps God will allow riches, like Solomon . . . but he too had problems! Perhaps God will allow hardships, yet look how Joseph was prospered!Riches can be a curse and sufferings most often bring rewards. The cross God would have every Christian to bear is to accept His will and live it for the glory of God.

My life is not my own. (Galatians 2:20)I live so others may see my God at work in my life and want to know Him for themselves. It is not easy. It is more often a challenge than not. But I know that one day, Christ wil say "Well done". (Matthew 25:21)Then it will be well worth it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Spiritual Island?

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.(James 5:15)
Prayer changes things . . . prayers that are offered by faith in the One who can change things.

The writer of Hebrews would put it this way:because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Prayer is communication with the God who created it all. He is the One who was in the beginning and will be there in the end. He has been there and done that and everything in between!If there is no faith in the God of the Bible and His Word, there is no effective communication.

James is not saying that only the elders can pray for those in need either. He is saying that when we are troubled, we can go to God. When we are really in trouble, go to those who can help us discover the cause. Many times we are out of touch with the Lord. We may be so knee deep in trouble (illness, anxiety, financial strains) that we cannot see the forest for the trees, much less the God who made it all! Everyone needs wise counsel at times. Many burdens are made to share!

James goes on to instruct us to "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16) Troubles don't last always and as believers, we are not alone. We have our father in heaven and our family in Christ. Prayer changes things and many times, people can help as well! Do not be a spiritual island!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Simple Challenge

The Lord has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must treat people fairly. You must love others faithfully. And you must be very careful to live the way your God wants you to.(Micah 6:8)

Simple advice . . . When the Lord confronted the people of Israel, He spoke these simple words through the prophet Micah. They asked what they had to do to please God . . . to worship Him properly. His reply was so simple, yet so challenging.

God wants us to treat others fairly . . . justly. He wants us to be consistent with our love . . . not hypocritical. He wants us to treat others the way we want to be treated. Finally God wants us to be merciful to others the same way He is merciful to us. This is what He ha shown throughout HIS-tory and it is how He expects His children to act.

God wants us to be like Him . . . simple, yet challenging. However, if we are His children, it should show through our obedience to Him and our love for others. (John 14:15)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now that we are saved . . . .?

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

It is almost as if Peter is saying, "Now that you are saved, show it!" The Christian faith is proved out in love. Anyone can love a friend. It is easy to love those who do good to us and never harm us in any way. But to love someone we do not actually know . . . one who is not really that close to us . . . one unlike us?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) This is the kind of love Peter is writing about in his epistle. Love for the one who hates us. Love for the racist. Love for the liar. Love for the one who plots against us. Love for the irritating co-worker. Unconditional, Christ-like love . . .one that loves, helps, sacrifices, and forgives.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) Jesus laid down His life for all who would believe. Are we willing to sacrifice our will for God's will and allow His love to reach those in our life who seem unloveable?

Now that we are saved . . .

Monday, April 4, 2011

Are We Ready?

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.(Luke 21:36)

As His followers were questioning Jesus about the end times . . .what would take place and when it would take place, Jesus left them with this advice: be ready!

It is not for us to know when the end will come (Mark 13:32). It is enough to know that Christ will come back and there will be a judgment for all to face. Everyone will stand before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10-12) But are we ready?

One will be judged as one who knows the Lord or as one who does not. It is a decision that must be made while one is living. It is too late once we face Him! To be one with God, a person must be born again! (John 3:3)

So those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior must stay prayerful, be on the watch and be busy for the Lord . . . working! We must be anticipating His coming and have a desire to be doing His work and winning more for His Kingdom. Those who do not know Him . . . now is the time! It is not God's will that anyone be lost. (2 Peter 3:8-9) However, the decision is left to the individual.

Are we ready?

Friday, April 1, 2011

I AM is Still the I AM

A righteous man may have many troubles,but the Lord delivers him from them all.(Psalm 34:19)

David knew all about troubles. Here in Psalm 34 he has decided to play as if he is crazy in order to hide from Abimelek. Trouble seemed to follow David; some he caused all on his own and some was the cause of his enemies. At other times, the troubles he faced was a direct instruction from the Lord to go to war. Nevertheless, David knew trouble! However, like the songwriter penned, trouble don't last always!

Everyone will expereince trouble in life. if you are not in trouble, you will be. If not, you have been before! It is a fact of life: you will have trouble. The question is; What will you do when in trouble?

David knew from experience that God is a deliverer. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). God is a shelter (Psalm 91:1) He does our battling for us. (1 Samuel 17:45-47)Eugene Monroe Bartlett wrote in 1939 that there is "victory in Jesus"!

Yes indeed, for the one who places their trust . . . their heart . . . their very life in the hands of the Lord Jesus, thier is victory! My Deliverer is coming! I trust in Him and Him alone! I am awaiting His presence. I AM is still I AM!(Exodus 3:14)

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...